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LI Man Charged With Strangling Estranged Wife Kelly Bretana Owen After Learning She Was Pregnant

SOUTH FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island man stands accused of strangling his estranged pregnant wife two weeks ago inside her family's home, police said.

Michael Owen appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

The former Marine sergeant allegedly killed 27-year-old nursing student Kelly Bretana Owen back on Jan. 15 in South Farmingdale.

Police said the couple married in 2013, had a child together, and then separated in March 2018, but continued a "physical and intimate" relationship.

Michael Owen apparently had a new, live-in girlfriend, and Kelly recently learned she was pregnant.

"He did not want this child. He did not want to give her medical insurance. He had this new relationship he was involved in, and he was in a bad position," said Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Homicide Squad.

Loved ones grew concerned when Kelly didn't show up at her 6-year-old daughter's after-school program. Her parents later found her lifeless body in bed inside the First Avenue home they all shared, along with her brother.

"Everybody in that neighborhood came forward, whether they had video or they saw something. A lot of information was significant for our case," Fitzpatrick said.

The medical examiner's office determined Kelly died of asphyxiation and was in the early stages of pregnancy.

"I'm glad he got caught and he deserves everything he gets now," a neighbor said.

Police had one domestic dispute on record, from late 2018. However, according to Safe Center LI education director Keith Scott, many times a perpetrator can snap.

"It's not just violence. It's emotional control. It's humiliation. It's stalking," Scott said. "When someone is pregnant or when there is a baby being born the abuse does escalate because the abuser now is losing control. Once that happens the abuser will do whatever it takes to maintain or gain power and control over their victims."

Michael Owen was remanded without bail and a judge ordered he not have contact with his daughter. He is expected back in court on Friday.

The Safe Center L.I. also offers crisis intervention and legal advocacy. Their 24/7 hotline can be reached at (516) 542-0404, and more information can be found online at

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